For all the mums.

Today is a day where many are celebrating the title of becoming a mum.  Many are hugging their little ones, or not so little ones.  

Today though isn’t a day full of smiles for all, there are many people out there who, for a variety of reasons, are alone.  Without their babies which makes this a difficult day. 

This is for you all.

“Take time to understand why we are feeling the emotions we are and use them to boost our strengths, rather than fuel our weaknesses”

@butterflieswithrainbows

I know it’s a tough day, it’s one you’ve been dreading.  Whether it be the first, second or even tenth Mother’s Day on your own I know it doesn’t get any easier.  People say it does right? You are waiting for that year when you wake up and it doesn’t hurt, or when you can walk past all the cards in the shop and not feel sad.  When you can watch the TV and the adverts won’t make the tears in your eyes burn, or the constant reminders on social media won’t make you feel like a complete fool.  It’ll always feel a little different, maybe always a little sad.  That’s alright, because you are a human being, and you have feelings.  Nothing will take that away.

Sometimes the hardest task in life is learning to accept our emotions and feelings, teaching ourselves to listen to them and learn from them.  Understanding why we are feeling the emotions we are and using them to boost our strengths, rather than fuel our weaknesses. 

This isn’t the first Mother’s Day I am spending without all my rainbows, and the guilt is overwhelming.  I am not going to lie; I hate the run up to this day.  I feel like I am letting them down, letting the people supporting me down, and that I have failed in my role as a mum.  One thing I have been learning on my journey to recovery though is that some guilt is non-controllable.  The guilt that is being felt is not out of doing something intentionally, therefore is this a ‘guilt’ I should be carrying?  Can that guilt be turned into something different? Maybe remorse?  I am truly sad that I can’t spend another Mother’s Day with all my rainbows however it is beyond my control.  I cannot change this.  Somehow although the sadness remains, it is less of a burden to hold on my shoulders than the feeling of guilt.  

So, when you are sitting there thinking about your rainbows, and the reason why you cannot hold them in your arms on this day.  Embrace the emotions for what they are, they are real, they are justified.  For you are a mum, and you deserve to have these feelings.  I hope you are able to hold on to the positive memories you have and look to the future.  Utilise the strength that you can gain from this to increase your momentum on your journey, day by day the finish line will become clearer.

“Understanding why we are feeling the emotions we are and using them to boost our strengths, rather than fuel our weaknesses”

I would urge you to still mark today as a celebration for yourself regardless, celebrate your motherhood, celebrate your tenacity, your fight, your strength, your love.  Write a card, letter, poem to your child so that wherever they are, you have had the opportunity to tell them how you feel. 

I included in my letter how grateful I am to have been made a mum, and even though I can’t hold my youngest again this year, I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to have seen all my babies demonstrate just how much like their mum they really are over the last year.  Sometimes a bit too much like their mum, but I guess that’s ok too.  Thoughts, emotions, and hope combined are a powerful thing.  They can create such a boost in motivation, in your drive to succeed, and fight.  

However you are spending this Mother’s Day, I wish you the opportunity to take some time to celebrate being a mum, in being you, and being brilliant at it, because it’s hard and you’re amazing. 

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“To You;”

Do you ever just stop, to take in your surroundings? Sit somewhere to really slow down? It is such a magical thing to do sometimes, and can really make you wonder, and think. The beautiful sunshine we had the other day was just the perfect weather to take a nice long walk. It wasn’t too hot, but at the same time it was not that cold either. So I was able to take that much needed time to just sit on the bench, by the river and observe the world going by. For those few moments completely switch off from the craziness of everything, to observe a sense of ‘normality’ in a sense. For those few moments there were no worries running through my brain, no anxieties making me shake, and no fears telling me to run away. For those few moments it was just nice to sit, watch, listen and write.

I am writing this to you, to all of you. To the new mums sitting on the bench with your babies tucked up so neatly in their prams.  I’m so glad you got out the house today, to meet each other and have your chat.  To see you both smiling while rocking your babies, you both seemed so at ease.  I hope you manage to keep it going and carry the example of friendship forward as your children grow. 

To the grandfather chasing their toddler grandchild up and down the riverbank, while she screams at the ducks.  I love you; you are amazing.  You haven’t stopped playing with that little girl and she hasn’t stopped laughing.  The amazing memories you are creating, and you may not realise it, but they will be cherished forever.  The patience while teaching her to ride that scooter, when dragging it is obviously a lot more fun, it’s to be commended.  I hope your family appreciate you.

To the couple sitting on a bench, taking selfie’s like no one’s watching.  You’re amazing.  Living life and enjoying the weather.  Documenting your walk with some pictures of you both and enjoying each other’s company.  You look so happy together. I wonder how long you’ve been a couple for.  You do look cute together. 

To the mum who’s feeding the ducks with her little boy, trying to convince him the bread is for the ducks and not for him.  You’re doing great.  I love hearing your laugh, and your words of encouragement.  You keep saying the right things to make your little one giggle, helping him to be brave enough to feed the ducks.  You seem to have a good bond and that’s so nice to see. 

To the fitness fanatics getting sweaty and running around.  I am watching in awe, with slight jealousy, and nothing to do with that fact you might be cute.  Keep the motivation going, you actually have no idea how many people you inspire or who you inspire.  Or make smile! Keep going, I’ll be watching for the next exercise, and maybe take some notes.

To the lonely looking person sitting on their own with their headphones in, are you ok? You’ve been looking at your phone for a while now.  I don’t think you have looked up at all. Even though it is a lovely day you have your hood up, and your sleeves pulled down over your hands. You look sad, preoccupied, there aren’t many people alone here, but I see you.  I hope the rest of your day goes ok. 

To the person reading this, just to say there is always someone, somewhere thinking of you, wondering if you are managing ok.  Hoping that you are able to do all you need to do to get through the day.  Who can manage a smile when they think of the things they have achieved.  Who can hold on to that hope, that even if you don’t think you are doing ok, you are doing better than you realise. That if you recognise you are doing ok, you have the confidence to celebrate that.

So this is written to you. 

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What has The Solution Focused Approach done for me?

              I thought I would write this blog on how much the Solution Focused Approach has changed things for me.  Although I have a long way to go, I have learnt so much, it has been a journey and a half.  I have not loved every step of it, and I have fought some steps.  However, I believe in this approach and can see the benefits, as a result it has changed my daily life, in many ways as you will see.

              I had never heard of Solution Focused Approach before I met the team at Family Based Solutions (FBS).  So, when I was referred to them my initial thoughts were along the lines of ‘great another therapy to fail’ (sorry guys) but it is true.  You see at the time I was referred I was in a terrible place, mentally, socially, and physically.  I had nothing really to encourage me to keep going so the motivation to actually engage with anyone wasn’t there.   

              I won’t ever forget the first phone call I received; I was actually at work.  That call changed my perspective almost immediately.  I say almost because like anyone who has been let down, hurt, and left alone I assumed that the same thing would happen again.  The only difference this time though was that call.  There was something about the words that were used, I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, however now I understand it better.  The phrases used, the words used were hopeful, they were planning for the future, and despite not knowing me I was spoken to like a human being and not a patient.  Only being one phone call, and me not knowing who it was I spoke to on the phone I went back to my office with a little bit of hope that day, that someone might be able and willing to help.

“The image in our minds that we wish to be like, and that we can achieve, one day.”

              Those first few meetings I had where a bit of a whirlwind, but the remaining memories of them are how the focus was always on what was going well.  For me this was no mans land.  This was something no one had asked me before, and I can’t tell you how many times I would annoy people by answering with “I don’t know” which believe me when I say that, if you say it enough you get a response like “Can’t you think of anything, even a small thing that’s gone well?”  I still say I don’t know now, but only when I don’t know the answer to something which is massive!

              With a Solution Focused Approach I quickly learnt it isn’t needing to look at where you have been on your journey.  Like the many types of therapy that I have been to previously where the history of events would be scrutinised and examined in great detail, sometimes meaning I would leave the sessions more traumatised than I started them.  It is more about looking at where you want to go, what can you do to get there, and how far you have come.  The achievements and how you have overcome the bumps in the road.

              The wonderful people at FBS soon discovered I can be quite stubborn though, and still get stuck on the history of stuff, so I make them work.  I’m learning this is all part of recovering, and moving forwards, one step at a time.  Having the confidence to work towards your preferred future.  Most days I can now look back purely to see just how far I have come, it isn’t an easy view admittedly, but it’s a personal journey and the different way of thinking has helped massively.

              Learning to look forward and change my own focus and perspective has definitely been an interesting experience.  I still have not got used to being asked how I am doing, and what do I want to do.  Allowing me to have the choices and to be in control of my own journey.  These are all the steps which get broken down into even smaller than baby steps, but I have learnt that that’s okay.

“The craziest thing of all is that this all started from one question that I had never been asked, – what are your best hopes?”

              So, on an individual basis this approach has helped me massively, in my confidence, without which this blog page wouldn’t exist.  I would never have had to confidence to share parts of my story, to speak to others about their stories.  It has even given me the confidence to throw some of the questions back at the FBS guys at times, which is quite humorous I must admit.   My view on life in general, on the importance of hope, and keeping that alive in everyone.  That hope goes hand in hand with motivation, without the motivation to keep going hope will fade, yet without hope the motivation to keep going will soon diminish. 

              As a parent this approach has made me so much calmer, in the fight to get my rainbows home it has allowed me to listen better.  I hear what they tell me and can respond to it in a much better way.  The best conversations happen when you end up with a child who looks at you and says “what, you’re not going to tell me off?”  and you can simply say “No, are you going to tell me what you have learnt from this?”  To recognise things that as a family we are doing well.  Like any family there are some terrible moments, don’t get me wrong.  There are teenagers, a pre-teen and a toddler involved which means no day is ever completely smooth sailing.  However now it is a case of looking at each day, thinking how we overcame each obstacle, and being proud of what we have achieved.

              The work FBS has done has spread across my entire family, not just with me.  This has included the amazing online chats that are available to everyone to watch on their Facebook page and YouTube page, I would recommend watching them.  They are the best conversation starters if you watch them with others, and good if you need a laugh at times.  They have a great sense of humour and outlook on everything.  The confidence and ability they have instilled with my children to enable them to use their voice, as well as allowing me to support that as well has made a remarkable difference.  All this by only focusing on the future family we want to be.  The image in our minds that we wish to be like, and that we can achieve, one day.

              I wonder at times why it took so long to find FBS, as I think things would have been much easier if I had met them a long time ago, however I am more than grateful for the impact they have made and continue to make today.  The changes are long lasting, and something that will be instilled for years to come.  Hopefully something that I will be able to pass on to others as well.

              I hope that you can see how much this approach has changed things for me, from hopeless to hopeful, from unmotivated to mostly motivated, and not wanting to give up.  The willingness to want to improve, and change for the best, to recognise strengths not just within myself but in all those around me.  To recognise that it is ok to reach for your dreams, and in order to do that you will take steps forwards, backwards and hit bumps in the road.  The craziest thing of all is that this all started from one question that I had never been asked, what are your best hopes?

Donations to Family Based Solutions can be given through this link, this will enable them to continue to do the work that they do, and help the families that they do. I am only one family of many that receives help, and would love to see this help continue on for others.

Family Based Solutions – Online Social Fundraising Donation Platform | Givey

Family Based Solutions supports families where there is child to parent abuse and families recovering from domestic abuse. We adopted the solution focused approach in 2014 and quickly saw the difference this approach made to children, young people and families. The approach allows families to identify and expand on their existing knowledge and resources by exploring instances of success and individual strengths

www.familybasedsolutions.org.uk

Charity No. 1149383

Shooting Stars.

Shooting stars are hard to come by. When you eventually see one it’s so quick and short lived, that by the time you pull your camera out or called someone else to come see it, well, it’s all over. In order to get others to believe you saw it you rely on trust. Trust that your eyesight didn’t let you down, that you didn’t imagine it. That when you re-tell the details of that amazing moment when the light darted across the night sky before your very eyes that others will listen in awe. They will imagine they had been with you, standing there seeing with their own eyes the magic unveil in the sky above.

The magic of a shooting star happening when you least expect it, when you are just looking up for whatever reason, is something quite special. It can leave you feeling so unique and special, like no one else in the world experienced that moment other than you. Igniting that spark inside to lift you up, to give you some passion, motivation and hope to keep going. It somehow magically makes a smile appear on your face regardless of how you feel inside, yet you have no idea why. Despite all these amazing powers a single shooting star can have, how often do you see them?

If only there was a way to encompass these powers, package them up so you can let them out on those dark nights when you look up and see no stars to guide you on your way. Carry them around with you and share them with your closest friends and loved ones when you see they need them more than you do. Those magical powers from one small natural phenomenon would be worth holding on to forever, and be so valuable wouldn’t they?

The thing with shooting stars is this, you have to get to know them, to understand them. If you take some time to learn more about them, then you will find out that shooting stars actually can be seen more often than we all think. By taking some time to look longer, taking the time to use the right tools, and look in the right places, you can see a shooting star every ten to fifteen minutes. Can you imagine feeling that internal rush? of energy that often? Can you even imagine being able to feel the smile across your face every time you see see what you you’re searching for?

“You already have the tools to see it, because to them, you may be that shooting star.”

That natural phenomenon, travelling through the sky at thousands and thousands of miles per hour, leaving a trail of light behind it, has the power to restore hope in many. Yet no one knows quite how, and that’s ok.

You see, the shooting stars you can only see if you have all the right tools. So if you don’t have everything you need to see those shooting stars tonight does it mean those stars aren’t there? Does it mean you can’t look up and smile? They are still there, shooting their way across that sky, you can still look up, you can still smile.

You can still share with your friends and loved ones your hope, because you know it is there. You already have the tools to see it, because to them, you may be that shooting star. Passing on the tools to others for them to be able to see clearly enough, so they in turn can be a star for someone else.

Shooting stars are very much like some of the closest people you will ever get to meet, they shine brightly in the darkness to shine your path, yet never seek attention. Only when you know them do you really see them.

Shooting stars may be a natural phenomenon, but they will always be there, just look up.

Interview with Talking Matters Most

On the 24th February I had the pleasure of virtually meeting with Hanna.  She runs her page @TalkingMattersMost on Instagram.  Hanna is from South Wales and started her page in 2020,  she keeps this up to date posting messages to promote positive mental health, promoting positive wellbeing, and with over a thousand followers now is keen to continue to share her positive message across her platform.

We met and had a lovely conversation covering the history of her page, and how it came about.  Including future hopes and dreams.  We even got talking about current thoughts and feelings about being in lockdown across the UK, and how that feels.  Here is how our conversation went.

I think I explained to you the other day about my website and the blog posts I am writing after talking to people behind the accounts on here. I think this is such an important thing, and people have a wealth of knowledge, and such important stories behind their pages.

I agree, I think it’s fantastic what you’re doing.

Thank you

So the first question I have, is quite broad.  Can you tell me how your page came about? How it started? and why it started?

I decided to start the page after many conversations with my friends and colleagues. Everyone I was speaking to was struggling with their mental health during lockdown-as was I- so it gave me the idea. My outlook has changed drastically over the past few months too and it’s important to me to try and stay positive- the account helps me do this whilst (hopefully) inspiring a little positivity in others too.

The name came about because it’s exactly how I was feeling at the time, talking to people about what’s on my mind seems to help me the most. And after speaking to others, it seemed to help them too.

That makes a lot of sense. I agree with the name choice. It is a very true statement as well.

When you say your outlook has changed, in what way?

I think my outlook has changed because of the way life has changed since last March, think I’ve gained a lot of perspective- what really matters and what I really need in my life.

love that, looking at it all with a different positive perspective rather than a restrictive perspective.

What keeps you motivated to keep your page active?

What keeps me motivated is the fact that people are following, commenting, and liking what I post, I suppose as long as people continue to engage with my content, I can see the value in carrying on.

Definitely. That is a great motivation isn’t it.

That leads quite nicely onto my next question. What are your best hopes for your page in the future? Where would you like to see it going?

To be completely honest, I haven’t thought about it- I’m sorry if that’s not the type of answer you were after, for now, I would like to just keep posting content that people like. If there’s an opportunity to grow it into something else, then I’ll likely pursue that.

I think that’s perfectly fine. Not everyone thinks about these things.

I think reading your answer the fact that you want to keep posting content that people like, is a hope.

And that’s pretty amazing.

I am really glad that you have managed to make something positive come out of this lockdown period. Even though you and the people around you were finding things hard, you had the courage to do something about it. That is so inspiring.  Is there anything you want to ask me?

We all may be in the same storm, but that doesn’t mean we are sailing the same wave.

Is this something you’re hoping to do more full time?

I work part time, but with events that I have experienced outside of work over the past few years I have decided to put it into words and start my blog.  Everyone has a story, the passion behind the content people share, which is what makes me interested in knowing why others have their pages, and why people do what they do.  What is it that inspires people to keep going, to keep motivated?

Everyone is different, and we all look for inspiration, and by talking to others, posting blogs on different profiles, telling these stories, I am hoping to create this safe place where people can read the blog click on the link to your page and see your posts.

Everyone does have a story, but I think it can be dangerous to think like that sometimes- don’t let that undermine what you managed to achieve.

I hope this will encourage others to avoid the negative posts which are sooooooo easy to come across online.

Some people are of the mindset that someone’s always worse off…which is true but in a sense both get hurt. Does that make sense?

Exactly. we might all be in the same storm. but our boats aren’t on the same wave.

Spot on.

@talkingmattersmost shared some amazing insight with how everyone does have their own story.  Knowing our own story, learning from our story, and using our story to inspire others is a powerful tool.  @talkingmatttersmost was developed out of listening and recognising what the people around one person needed.  The courage, tenacity, and bravery for one person to take the steps to react to those needs, to encourage conversations and create something to meet the needs of others in such a difficult time is inspirational.  People like Hanna are who will continue to spread the kindness, and message of hope.  To keep the faith in human nature going, that there are kind people who will listen, encourage others to talk when you need too, and empower other to do the same.  As we discussed, there are times when we all may be in the same storm, but that doesn’t mean we are sailing the same wave.  Everyone will experience it differently.  All we can do is be kind, listen, and remember that talking matters the most.

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